US institutional investors take on News Corp. over phone hacking

US funds file amended complaint in wake of scandal

The Amalgamated Bank, the US labour bank which oversees around $11bn (€7.9bn) via its activist LongView Funds, the Central Laborers Pension Fund and other public pension funds have amended an existing complaint against News Corp. in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.
“The shareholder group accuses News Corp.’s board of failing to exercise proper oversight and take sufficient action since news of the hacking first surfaced at its subsidiary nearly six years ago,” said co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, Grant & Eisenhofer, in a statement.
The plaintiffs have added to a complaint filed in May – which had alleged “rampant nepotism and failed corporate governance” at the media giant – in the light of new latest developments.
“These revelations should not have taken years to uncover and stop,” the shareholders argued today (July 11).
Earlier, the chairman of the £5.3bn (€6bn) Church Commissioners’ asset management group, Andreas Whittam Smith, said he believes that the News Corp. executives embroiled in the phone hacking scandal willeventually be tried in court. Campaign group Fair Pensions had called for investors to take a stand on the issue.
“It is inconceivable that [News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert] Murdoch and his fellow Board members would not have been aware of the illicit news gathering practices,” the investor statement continues.
The latest allegations supplement a lawsuit originally filed in Delaware Court of Chancery which challenged the company’s $615m purchase of Shine Group, the UK media firm owned by Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth.
“It is way past time that the News Corp. board step in and initiate serious changes to the company’s corporate governance,” said Jay Eisenhofer, co-managing director of Grant & Eisenhofer.
The latest revelations are “the final straw for News Corp. shareholders” added Mark Lebovitch of co-lead counsel Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann (BLB&G).
Links: LongView and Central Laborers Pension Fund